“My childhood dream was to complete the Comrades Marathon. I had successfully qualified at the Winelands Marathon but found that preparation towards the big day was hampered with an injury with four weeks to go.
Naturally this made me very nervous and doubtful in even getting to the start line. I was encouraged by Sandor and Suzi to stay positive and stay on track with my training. This got me to race day. Heading to the start was very emotional as my wife and kids were in Cape Town as I embarked on this lifelong dream. I was also thankful as I had my folks and brother to send me off in the morning.
On the freezing cold, early bus trip I was very nervous. Waiting in my F-seeding batch, I was lucky to chat to a fellow runner Winnie, who was heading for her 9th medal. She helped me calm my nerves. The morning was very festive with a great atmosphere of people singing and getting hyped up for the count down. The National Anthem, Shosholoza and Chariots of Fire was the game changer; no more nerves and I was so ready to take on The Ultimate Human Race.
The big bang went off and with the batches of athletes, we walked for a good 8 minutes before we could get jogging. I then met JG and we began our journey together as novice runners. The first 15km was tricky with that many runners all beginning their epic journey at a snail’s pace.
However, once we reached Cato Ridge we found better rhythm and got going. JG and I ran through halfway together. It was great company to have a fellow Strand member who was also a novice runner and we made sure we stuck to our plan. At 57km my watch went dead and I became nervous as I couldn’t track and manage my time.
I kept focused and continued to 60km, at the Pinetown cut-off point, I recalculated my race and realised that I had lost time trying to stick to my original time of 10:30 – 10:55. Part of my training plan was to have a very strong second half and this worked in my favour as I didn’t incur any cramps or discomfort and felt very strong. With the support of the crowds and the jubilant volunteers at the refreshment stations, I felt great. I decided to put my head down, concentrate on my journey and made my way to the finish.
When I went through the final cut-off point, I knew the finish line was within my reach and nothing was going to stop me from completing this race with some time to spare. With 1km to go, I felt this great sense of accomplishment.
As I entered the stadium there was an amazing atmosphere with the crowds cheering to keep the runners heading for the finish line. As I crossed the line, I raised my hands in glory as I had just completed my childhood dream.”
The winner of this month’s Arnica Ice hamper is Junaid Roopnarain.